Do the Philadelphia Eagles Really Need a Blocking Tight End?

By PFC Eagles Writer Bob Cunningham

Apart from the clamor that comes up every season for a No. 1 receiver here in Philly, the other need on everyone’s list was a blocking tight end.But is it necessary? Is a blocking tight end an absolute need?

Quite simply, no.

While they are definitely a breed of tight end more suited for teams like Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Baltimore, etc., they are by no means a necessity.

Take a team like Tennessee for example. Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler are both primarily receiving tight ends. Not to take anything away from Scaife’s ability to block, he’s a decent edge blocker, but his real talent comes in catching the ball.

Heath Miller in Pittsburgh and Todd Heap in Baltimore are also primarily receiving tight ends who aren’t completely incompetent blockers, they’re also pretty decent at taking on a defensive end, outside linebacker, or blitzing DB. So if those teams can get by without a blocking tight end, why would a team like the Eagles in a pass-first offense need a blocking tight end?

The answer is, they don’t.

So what is essential to a good running game? What allows those teams to get by without a real blocking specialist at tight end?

The answer is a dying position in the NFL today: the Fullback.

Ahmad Hall, Dan Kreider, and Lorenzo Neal (for the Ravens in ’08, now a Raider) are the keys to the successful running game of those three teams. Also a guy like Brad Hoover in Carolina and Madison Hedgecock in New York (Giants), just to name a few.

Every efficient running game will have a good fullback leading the way, where any average to below average running game will have a sub-par or no fullback at all, as was the case with the Eagles.

Dan Klecko stepped in and performed admirably. The man gave it his best shot and did what he could when called upon. He’s a team player and deserves all the credit in the world.

However, he is not a fullback.

So even though the Eagles do not have a blocking tight end, what they do have now is a real fullback in Leonard Weaver. Weaver is a triple-threat at fullback being able to block, run, and catch the ball. Before joining the Seahawks in 2005, Weaver was a college tight end.

As we have seen, the success of the running game leans on the offensive line (the Eagles now have the biggest average offensive line in the league), and the fullback.

Not the tight ends. Andy Reid has already realized this, which could be why we saw the Eagles trade up and still skip out on drafting Brandon Pettigrew.

The point here is that the Eagles have the best of both worlds. The offense will be able to run thanks to the offensive line and fullback, and McNabb gets another weapon in Cornelius Ingram.

A couple big runs from Westbrook and a few touchdown receptions from Celek and Ingram, and this will no longer be an issue.

So even though the ineptitude of the tight ends, as far as blocking, was shown last season (especially Matt Schobel in the Bears game), the Eagles should be just fine with a new and improved offensive line and a real fullback.